|Holy Dog – Cardiff, Portland House - 22 January 2017|
|Written by Dean Glyn Morris|
|Saturday, 04 February 2017 04:00|
Matt Taylor, aka Holy Dog, has been doing the rounds for a while now with his two-man outfit Them Dead Beats, but has taken some time to work on his solo music and this marks the first time he has performed this material to an audience.
The hard work clearly shines through every lyric and every chord. Usually singing with a harsh growl like he smoked a pack of 20 before getting on stage, here he scales the vocals back, allowing every word to be heard clearly and it's needed. He approaches these new songs with a soft and sombre tone which perfectly fits the story telling nature of each track.
'It’s Not What You Got' cannot help but make the listener feel a sense of self-reflection as the lyrics tell the story of a person who is unsure of the direction life is taking but is completely aware of this and seeks to discover a change. Something I think we can all relate to.
The songs aren't exclusively about the words he sings. On songs such as 'Heads You Win' Matt demonstrates his finger pickin' skills flawlessly during a simplistic yet beautifully played solo that conjures up thoughts of Junior Kimbrough’s stripped down material. The same can be said for 'Oh' which has a grittiness that is well disguised by a simmering rhythm.
There are a fair few songs under his belt and all display his distinctive voice and prowess as a craftsman of song. There is a clear influence of a more calm and soothing Tom Waits which becomes all the more evident on his respectful cover of 'Take Care of All of My Children'.
The venue was a place not built for live music. With a large open floor plan room mostly occupied by exhibits, the reverb sometimes appeared to potentially spell trouble but he was able to overcome and put on a stellar performance. Holy Dog and other artists were there to provide background music for an art exhibition that was taking place, but Matt managed to draw a crowd and get the otherwise distracted people to listen closely, no doubt due to the qualities already discussed.
You may know him from his well-deserved success with Them Dead Beats but this debut solo performance tells us he has a lot more tricks up his sleeve and we should all be keeping our ears open for more that will surely come.